Is the Rapture in the Bible?
Did the Apostle Paul and Jesus teach the Rapture? Is there a difference in the Rapture and the 2nd Coming? Here's one of the clearest statements to the Rapture of the Church. This is where the word Rapture comes from.
1 Thes. 4: 13 Brothers and sisters, we do not want you to be uninformed about those who sleep in death, so that you do not grieve like the rest of mankind, who have no hope. 14 For we believe that Jesus died and rose again, and so we believe that God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep (died) in him. 15 According to the Lord’s word, we tell you that we who are still alive, who are left until the coming of the Lord, will certainly not precede those who have fallen asleep (died). 16 For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. 17 After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever. 18 Therefore encourage one another with these words.
Some like to argue that there’s no rapture because the word rapture is not in the Bible. But it is. You just read it. The New Testament was written in Greek. They didn’t have the English word ‘Rapture’ for Paul to use. The phrase ‘caught up’ is from the Greek word Harpazo. It became the Latin word Raptus in the Latin Vulgate translation of the Bible. It later became the English word Rapture. As I just said, the New Testament was written in Greek, then translated from Greek into Latin, then into English. The translators chose to use the translation of the word Harpazo. So the rapture could be called the catching up. The word rapture just became the English word used to describe this event. I would also point out that the word Trinity is not in the Bible but everyone agrees this is referring to the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Trinity has just become the word used to describe God in 3 persons, just like the word Rapture has come to be used to describe the catching up of believers.
Now for those who want to assert that Paul's use of caught up is meaning something other than being caught up to heaven, here's another instance of which Paul used the word Harpazo. Here, Paul was actually referring to himself.
2 Cor. 12:2 I know a man in Christ who fourteen years ago was (caught up) to the third heaven. Whether it was in the body or out of the body I do not know—God knows. 3 And I know that this man—whether in the body or apart from the body I do not know, but God knows— 4 was (caught up) to paradise and heard inexpressible things, things that no one is permitted to tell.
So what occurs with the Rapture? First, in 1 Thes. 4 we see that Jesus will bring with him from heaven the spirit/souls of those that have already died that are referred to as ‘in him’. Their bodies are raised from the dead, recreated. Next we see those that are alive will have their bodies changed and will be ‘caught up together’ with them and will meet in the air, clouds. Then Paul said, and so we will be with the Lord forever. Notice no mention of coming down to the earth. Jesus is returning back to heaven.
Look at what Jesus said in John chapter 14: “Do not let your hearts be troubled. You believe in God; believe also in me. 2 My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you? 3 And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am.
Notice he said he is going to his Father’s house to prepare a place for them, he did this with his ascension, which now is also addressing the Church. Which should be obvious since this did not occur with the disciples. They all died. This is actually an illustration taken from how the Jewish Wedding Custom was. We see in the Old Testament customs that were types and patterns, foreshadows of the coming of the Messiah and what he would do for mankind. The 7 yearly Jewish festivals for example. The most well-known is of course, Passover and the Passover Lamb and first fruits(Easter). We see that the Jewish wedding custom also foreshadows what God the Father and Jesus would do. With the Jewish wedding custom we see the whole plan of salvation. See in the Bible Lessons, “The Jewish Wedding and the Rapture”.
Jesus said in his Father’s house are many rooms. His Father‘s house is in heaven. And he said that he would come back and take the Church, his faithful followers there to be with him, that we would be where he is. He’s coming from heaven to the earth, but from what we just read from Paul, he is only returning in the air. Here Jesus describes “a coming for” His saints to take them to the Father's house. This is a description of the Rapture in contrast to the Second Coming. "This passage indicates that the believer is going to go to heaven, to the Father’s house at the time of Jesus’ coming for Him." This does not occur at the Second Coming because we see that will be a time in which Jesus comes ‘with’ His saints, who are already in heaven, see Rev. 19, not for His saints as John 14:1-3 requires. Furthermore at Jesus’ 2nd coming he is not going back to heaven, he is coming down to the earth. Jesus is unveiling a new revelation about the Rapture of the Church.
Here in John 14 Jesus is giving a new and unique revelation; He speaks of something that no prophet had promised. Nowhere in the Old Testament is it written that the Messiah would come and instead of gathering His elect into an earthly Jerusalem, He would come and take them to the Father’s house, take them to heaven. All the Old Testament prophets spoke of the Messiah coming to earth and establishing the Kingdom of God. This coming and taking his followers to be with him is something totally new, not revealed in the Old Testament times. Why, because the Church was not revealed to the Old Testament prophets and saints. Paul said the Church was a mystery. Eph. 3: 2-10, Col. 1:24-27. Jesus said he was returning to take the believers back to heaven, to the Father’s house. He’s not coming down to the earth at this time. This is the Rapture.
In 1 Corinthians 15 Paul gives more insight into what happens with being changed. We see that the Rapture is a mystery. By the way, I’m not going to go into it here, but the last trumpet here is not the 7th trumpet in Revelation. For one John hadn’t received and written the book of Revelation yet. See the lesson 'Is the Last Trumpet the 7th Trumpet' on the lessons page all about the Rapture.
1 Cor. 15:51 Listen, I tell you a mystery: We will not all sleep(die), but we will all be changed— 52 in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed. 53 For the perishable must clothe itself with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality.
Paul also mentions this in his letter to the Philippians.
Phil. 3:20 But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ, 21 who, by the power that enables him to bring everything under his control, will (transform) our lowly bodies so that they will be like his glorious body.
We see that the Rapture is a mystery, not revealed in the Old Testament. We see that the Rapture will occur in a flash, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, so quick that it occurs in like in a Nano second. A person could be standing right in front of another person and then they’re gone, vanished. The Greek word for flash or moment is ‘atomos’ which is where we get the word atom. The meaning here is (an “atom” of time). That’s quicker than the human eye can see, quicker than the human eye can perceive. It sounds like it happens so quick that we find ourselves immediately before the throne of God. See Rev. 4. See Lessons All About the Rapture page.
So, from what we have just read we see the Bible does tell us there will be a Rapture, a ‘catching up’, that the Apostle Paul and Jesus taught the Rapture. We see with the Rapture Jesus is coming from heaven and the dead in Christ are going to receive glorified, immortal bodies. We see that the believers that are alive at the time of the Rapture are going to have their bodies changed, transformed into glorified, immortal bodies and will meet those that had already died in Jesus in the air and are going back to heaven, back to the Fathers house with Jesus. This should be clear from what we have just read. Those that had already died in Jesus together with those that are alive at the time of the Rapture are going back to heaven with Jesus. We see in Rev. 19 this does not occur with the 2nd Coming. What we see with his 2nd coming is the Church, the bride of Christ (already) in heaven and returning with Jesus from heaven. This should be obvious from a plain sense reading. John said he saw 'heaven opened'.
Let’s look at the 2nd coming in Revelation chapter 19.
Rev. 19: 11 I saw (heaven standing open) and there before me was a white horse, whose rider is called Faithful and True. With justice he judges and wages war. 12 His eyes are like blazing fire, and on his head are many crowns. He has a name written on him that no one knows but he himself. 13 He is dressed in a robe dipped in blood, and his name is the Word of God. 14 The armies of heaven were (following him), riding on white horses and dressed in fine linen, white and clean.
With verses 7 & 8 we are told who these are riding on white horses, dressed in fine linen, white and clean. We see the Church age saints as a bride then with verse 14 as the armies of heaven. We know from Paul that the Church is the bride of Christ, that we have been betrothed to Christ.
7 Let us rejoice and be glad and give him glory!
For the wedding of the Lamb has come, and his bride has made herself ready.
8 Fine linen, bright and clean, was given her to wear.”
(Fine linen stands for the righteous acts of God’s holy people.)
for the fine linen is the righteous acts of the saints. NKJV
We see the Church age saints coming from heaven with Jesus riding on white horses. Now do you see a problem here with the Rapture occurring with Jesus’ 2nd coming? Here we see Jesus coming from heaven WITH his bride, with the Church age saints. John said he saw heaven standing open. No meeting in the air. The Church age saints are already in heaven and are coming FROM heaven with Jesus. So, the Church had to have been Raptured, caught up, before Jesus’ 2nd coming. Here with the 2nd coming Jesus and the Church are not going back to heaven as Jesus said in John 14 but are coming ‘from’ heaven back down to the earth. This alone shows that the Rapture doesn’t occur at the time of Jesus’ 2nd coming.
Let’s look at what takes place in chapter 20 after Jesus has returned to the Earth and is seated on his Throne. We know from Jesus that this takes place after he has returned back down to the earth and the earthly Kingdom of God is about to begin. With verse 4 John says he saw thrones on which were seated those who had been given authority to judge. This is the 24 elders we see in chapters 4 & 5 of Revelation of which 12 could very well be the first apostles, which includes Matthias since he replaced Judas, as well as others that are mentioned in the New Testament that had a major role in establishing the early Church.
Mt. 19:28 Jesus said to them, “Truly I tell you, at the renewal of all things, when the Son of Man sits on his glorious throne, you who have followed me will also sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel.
Mt. 25: 31 “When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit on his glorious throne. 32 All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats.
Rev. 20: 4 I saw thrones on which were seated those who had been given authority to judge. And I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded because of their testimony about Jesus and because of the word of God. They had not worshiped the beast or its image and had not received its mark on their foreheads or their hands. They came to life and reigned with Christ a thousand years.
We see a clear description of what will be happening during the Tribulation. We see this from the statement, “the souls of those who had been beheaded because of their testimony about Jesus and because of the word of God. They had not worshiped the beast or its image and had not received its mark on their foreheads or their hands. They came to life”.
We see here AFTER Jesus and the Church age saints have returned to the earth, those that died during the Tribulation being raised from the dead. But wait a minute. Paul in 1 Thes. 4 said the dead in Christ (church age believers) rise first then those that are alive and remain are changed and caught up, Raptured. If the Rapture had just occurred in Rev. 19 with Jesus’ 2nd coming, these we see here that died during the Tribulation would have already been raised from the dead. Paul said the dead in Christ will rise first, then those that are alive will be caught up together with them.
With a post-trib Rapture, with the Rapture and 2nd coming occurring at the same time, having the Church going through the Tribulation, these would be included in the Church and would have already been raised from the dead. A post-trib view of the Rapture has occurring the opposite of what Paul and Jesus said. We just saw from Rev. 19 the Church, the bride of Christ coming from heaven with Jesus.
We see with 1 Thes. 4 verse 14 that, 'God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep (died in Jesus) in him', and with verse 16 'the dead in Christ will rise first'. The catching up, the Rapture is of only the Church age believers, not the Old Testament Saints. The Old Testament Saints were not in Jesus, not in Christ. The Church hadn't been created, formed yet.
In Chapter 12 of Daniel he tells us that after the second half of the Tribulation, at the end of days he will rise to receive his allotted inheritance. He started the chapter off with, '“At that time Michael, the great prince who protects your people, will arise. There will be a time of distress such as has not happened from the beginning of nations until then. But at that time (your people)—everyone whose name is found written in the book—will be delivered. 2 Multitudes who sleep in the dust of the earth will awake:. The resurrection of the Old Testament Saints occurs with the Tribulation saints we see occurring in Rev. chapter 20. We see in Matthew 24 verses 15 thru 31 Jesus also describes this.
It should be clear from only what we have just read that the Rapture doesn’t occur with the 2nd coming. From what Paul and Jesus said concerning what takes place with the Rapture and from what we see with Rev. 19 & 20 the Rapture cannot occur on the day of Jesus’ 2nd coming. It has to occur before Jesus' 2nd coming. The Rapture of the Church age saints and the 2nd coming of Jesus are not the same or occur at the same time.
Just like the Old Testament paints two separate comings of the Messiah, the first as a suffering servant, the second as a conquering King, the New Testament paints two different pictures of Jesus returning. First one in which he doesn’t return back down to the earth, he only returns in the air and removes those that the Bible refers to as ‘in him’, they will not experience death but will return with him back to heaven, back to the Fathers house. John 14: 1-3. The Bible gives a promise of hope to those that have accepted Jesus into their lives. The Bible says those that are in Jesus are not appointed onto wrath, that they will not experience the wrath of God, that Jesus will return to remove them before he pours out his judgment and wrath on a Christ rejecting world. It’s come to be called the Rapture. Then 7 years later will be his 2nd coming in which he returns back down to the earth with his bride, the Church. This 7 years has come to be referred to as the Tribulation. After he returns back down to the earth he remains to rule the world for a 1000 years. Rev. 19 & 20. After this 1000 years will be eternity.
Lk. 21: 34 “Be careful, or your hearts will be weighed down with carousing, drunkenness and the anxieties of life, and that day will close on you suddenly like a trap. 35 For it will come on (all those who live on the face of the whole earth). 36 Be always on the watch, and pray that you may be able to escape ALL that is about to happen, and that you may be able to (stand before) the Son of Man.”
Rev. 3: 10 Since you have kept my command to endure patiently, I will also keep you (from) the hour of trial that is going to come on the whole world to test the inhabitants of the earth.
We see a promise is made to those that are truly part of the Church that are living in the last days just before the Tribulation, that they will be kept from the hour of trial that is coming upon the world. Here Jesus said that he would keep the Church from the time of the hour of trail, remove the Church from it altogether. The Strong’s Greek Lexicon translation G1537 is (out of, from, by, away from). It is not keep ‘through’ as the post-trib view says.
The Rapture, the catching up of the Church, 1 Thes. 4:13-18, is the means of escape which keeps us from the hour of trial. It is Jesus, the groom coming for his bride to take her back to heaven, back to the Father’s house. John 14:1-3. The only way to escape, to get in the ark is to have accepted Jesus as your Lord and Savior. To believe he is who he said he is.
For more lessons check out the Bible Lessons Page.
1 Thes. 1: 10 and to wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead—Jesus, who rescues us from the coming wrath.
Titus 2: 13 while we wait for the blessed hope—the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ,
Maranatha, Our Lord Comes.